Choreographer | Dance Educator
Movement Training for Singers & Actors | Performance Designer
Irineu Nogueira is a Brazilian artist who has been living in London for the last 7 years. He has been exploring paths to express his art of movement through cross-discipline experiences in dance, theatre, cinema and performance. Back in Brazil Irineu developed a respectful reputation in Brazilian and African dances which resulted in several masterclasses worldwide.
Almost thirty years after his first experience with dance, the choreographer, and dance educator Irineu Nogueira has become a reference in research and the teaching of Afro-Brazilian worldwide. Born in São Luis, in the state of Maranhão, in the North of Brazil, Irineu is recognized for his pioneering role in mixing solid references of Brazilian and African movements with contemporary dance techniques, thus creating a unique language whose strong point is diversity.
Owing to his speed at the handball courts, Irineu attracted the attention of technicians who invited him to compete for clubs in the city of São Paulo, in a quick and meteoric rise as an athlete.
In 1990, however, dance found him again, and this time professionally, when he changed the race tracks for the dancefloor. As a frequent visitor to the famous Lambateria Mel, in São Paulo, Irineu received an invitation to audition with more than 300 black dancers and was chosen to be part of the commercial success of “Banana Split”, launched and produced by the Brazilian presenter Gugu Liberato. With the group, Irineu went on a successful tour around the world, performing for a select audience which included heads of state and celebrities.
After that, Irineu Nogueira worked with important names in Brazilian culture such as José Possi Neto, Suzana Yamauchi, Marcio Aurelio, Iacov Hillel, Guga Stroeter, Mario Gusmão, Jorge Silva, Sergio Simphronio, Firmino Pitanga, Wilson Aguiar, Cao Hambúrguer and Kika Nicolela, on cross-sectoral experiences in opera, theatre, musicals, cinema and circus, which transformed him into a complete artist. He was also part of the cast of important groups and companies in the country, such as “A Tribo Cia. de Dança” (The Tribe Dance Company), “Batá Kotô” and “Bombelêla Cia. de Dança” (Bombelêla Dance Company). His repertoire has been influenced by various rhythms and sources, not only of African dance and culture, but also of hip-hop, salsa, modern dance, contemporary dance, street dance, lambada and zouk.
The journalist, master researcher of scenic arts, actress and theatrical producer, Rosane Muniz sums up the talent and inventive ability of Irineu:
‘He is a great Brazilian artist. His work on the stage is wonderful, and the professionalism and seriousness he shows towards his career is notable. I worked with him many times and achieved excellent results. His capacity to improvise and deal with unexpected issues is incredible. Irineu’s power to push his work forward and find new ways to use his creativity is unique. I had the pleasure to watch his performances many times, for example in the carnival “Sambódromo” (Runway), theatre plays, musicals, workshops… And the result are always the usual – a real artist reinventing himself!’
The teacher and researcher
In this melting pot of eclectic references and experiences, Abieié (rebirth, in the Yorubá language) was born, in 2005; a flag wielded by Irineu to further research, develop his own style and defend the place of Afro-Brazilian dance, not only in Brazil, but in the world, especially in Europe. Abieié is, at the same time, a language and a methodology, born after many years of research in Sala Crisantempo, an important space dedicated to dance in the city of São Paulo, where Irineu worked as a resident teacher. This is a unique proposition for the body, blending contemporary dance techniques with the diversity of Africo-Brazilian culture.
The methodology proposes unconventional teaching techniques and choreography, without limiting oneself to copying pre-programmed steps. In each class, Irineu creates different choreographic sequences, often complex, almost instantly, in a flow of rhythm and aesthetic beauty. This is further enhanced by his facility to teach, with special attention given to the needs of students. As a result, class participants, beginners and advanced, dance organically for 90 minutes, immersed in that flow.
Also noteworthy are the important physiological gains provided by the classes, such as improved breathing capacity, muscle strengthening and the improvement of motor coordination, making them a full exercise practice not only for the body but for the soul as well. Another important difference is the use of live music with carefully selected musicians playing strong stimulating rhythms, turning each lesson into a unique experience, a celebration of body, dance, music and joie de vivre.
In the classroom, the students, a vibrant heterogeneous mix of UK natives and immigrants from Brazil, Africa and European countries; affirm that the classes and the presence of Irineu act as a breath of fresh air in the day-to-day existence in a hectic and schizophrenic metropolis like London. It’s an oasis of joy, creativity, rhythm and release. ‘Irineu Nogueira gives the perfect interpretation of contemporary afro-Brazilian dance. He teaches with his heart and dances with his soul. He hipnotises with his ancestral movements.’, says Cybelle Young, a zealous participant in Irineu’s classes.
The director and choreographer
As a choreographer and director, Irineu is renowned for his creativity and innovation, the result of multiple experiments in conceptual and commercial projects in addition to his practice as a producer and entrepreneur, which gives him a systemic view of the universe of the arts and dance.
What is also worth noticing is his ability to make others dance, turning the anonymous into protagonists, when directing the opening wing of samba schools at the Carnival in São Paulo, since 1994. Because of his role, Irineu has received important awards such as the famous Estandarte de Ouro (Gold Standard), from the school Vai-Vai, in 2008, when the opening wing received the highest score from all judges, undoubtedly an honourable award when it comes to Brazilian carnival.
Another important facet of Irineu stems from his experience of directing artists on the stage and giving movement and body condition, especially the new generation of Brazilian female singers such as Fabiana Cozza, Iara Rennó, Luciana Mello and Mariana Aydar. ‘I knew Irineu Nogueira for more than 10 years when we used to work in musicals in São Paulo, Brazil. He is extremely professional, one of the most brilliant professional dancers I ever met. He is a great researcher of contemporary dance and the appreciation of the heritage of the African culture in Brazil.’, says Fabiana Cozza, a Brazilian singer who worked with Irineu many times since the show “Quando o Céu Clarear” (When the Sky Clears) of 2007.
Present and future
In 2010, Irineu moved to Europa, with the goal to deepen his research, expand the market for his work and his own training, in a relentless search for new sources and references. When coming to Paris, and then London, he brought with him not only a great desire and willingness to build something new, but also the wish to be recognized as an ambassador for Afro-Brazilian culture in Europe. The “flagship” of his work are the regular classes, currently part of the programme at London dance centres such as The Place and Siobhan Davies Studios. Irineu also participates in and promotes workshops and other events through the production company Cria da Casa Productions. In this short space of time, he has lad ready managed to establish important partnerships, not only with local and international artists, but also with institutions.
Apart from the classes, workshops and events, Irineu is involved in the creation of cross-disciplinary performances; in his Master’s Degree in Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins/UAL and in developing body and movement training and preparation for actors and singers using his dance, theatre and pilates skills. Irineu studied Pilates Teacher Training Programme, in the Trinity LABAN Conservatoire of Music and Dance, especially addressed to dancers, which added more to Irineu’s already vast knowledge and strong background.